Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Annunciations

.... In the fullness of time, God sent the angel Gabriel to Zacharias, a humble Levite priest, as he ministered before Him at the temple in Jerusalem. Appearing in a vision, the angel foretold the birth of John the Baptist who would be sent before the Messiah. And with this indirect mention, the first stirring of the Messiah’s own coming was announced:
"And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17)

.... "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD . . "
(Malachi 4:5 - 397 B.C.)
.... " . . The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
(Isaiah 40:3 - 712 B.C.)
.... In the sixth month the angel was sent again, this time to a young virgin named Mary, who was espoused to Joseph of the house of David. And as he greeted her, he spoke of the favor she had found with God: "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women!" (Luke 1:28)
.... Through Mary's genealogy the seed of David had been preserved; and through Joseph’s genealogy the claim to David’s throne, though long ago fallen, had remained by way of entitlement. In the child she would bear, the two parts of God’s ancient covenant would come together again in one person at last:

.... "I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: 'Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations.'" Selah.
(Psalm 89:3-4 - 961 B.C.)
.... The angel told how the child would inherit the throne of David, his earthly forefather: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke 1:32-33)
.... "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."
(Isaiah 9:6-7 - 732 B.C.)

.... But Mary was confused by his proclamation. How could he speak of her giving birth while she was still a virgin? "How shall this be?" she asked. So the angel foretold the virgin birth:
"The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Therefore, also, the Holy One who is to be born shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)

.... "For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth-- a woman shall encompass a man."
(Jeremiah 31:22 - 597 B.C.)
.... Mary was espoused to Joseph, who was heir to the house of David. Espousal was a stronger counterpart to our modern concept of an engagement, though it was less than an actual marriage. Because of this, Joseph had not yet known her intimately. For three months, Mary stayed with her cousin Elizabeth (to whom John would be born), and when she returned to Nazareth her pregnancy was beginning to show.
Joseph, not understanding what had taked place, was naturally disturbed, and considered whether to divorce her. But being a just man and not willing to make her a public example, he was minded to do this quietly.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 1:18-20)

.... "Hear now, O house of David! . . . the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."
(Isaiah 7:13-14 - 732 B.C.)
.... "And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS . . ."

.... ". . . The LORD has called Me from the womb; from the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name."
(Isaiah 49:1 - 712 B.C.)
.... ". . . for He will save His people from their sins."

.... " . . . the LORD . . . formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him . . ."
(Isaiah 49:5 - 712 B.C. )
.... Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her intimately until she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS (Matthew 1:24-25).
.... "Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit have sent Me."
(Isaiah 48:16 - 712 B.C.)